for this game

Francis, Rockies crush Braves

Aug 4, 2007 - 4:05 AM By Phil Foley PA Sportsticker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Jeff Francis helped the Colorado Rockies remain one of the National League's hottest teams.

Francis hurled six solid innings for his seventh consecutive win and Garrett Atkins smashed a three-run homer off John Smoltz to power the surging Rockies to a 9-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday.

The 26-year-old Francis was superb once again, cooling off Atlanta's torrid offense, which had scored 49 runs over its last four games. Facing one of the more dangerous lineups in the NL, Francis (12-5) surrendered just one run and six hits, striking out eight without a walk.

"It's no secret what that offense is capable of," Francis said. "As a player, you try to do your job. I was able to get out of some jams and we scored nine runs. That helps, too."

After a slow start, Colorado has been on fire since the beginning of May, winning 46 of 82 games for an NL-best .561 winning percentage. Part of the Rockies' success has been the phenomenal pitching of their ace Francis.

The Canadian lefthander is now 7-0 with a 4.30 ERA in his last 10 starts. The Rockies, who climbed within three games of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West Division, are 9-1 in Francis' starts over that stretch.

"He's been unbelievable," Atkins said. "Every time he goes out there, he's throwing six or seven innings, allowing one or two runs. Anytime you do that, you give the offense we have a chance to win."

Francis has not lost to a National League club since the San Francisco Giants bested him on May 2.

"He's a good pitcher every fifth day," Matt Holliday said. "He gives us a chance to win. He's sorta taken over our role. He and (Aaron) Cook have been our aces."

Colorado (56-52) is off to its best start in franchise history. The 1995 club - the only team in the history of the franchise to make the playoffs - had an identical 56-52 record through 108 games.

Atkins continued his torrid hitting, connecting on a 1-1 offering from Smoltz (10-6) for a three-run homer - his 16th of the season - in the seventh inning. The 27-year-old Atkins, who drove in two of Colorado's four runs on Thursday, has 14 RBI over his last 10 games.

"He just kind of left an off-speed pitch over the plate," Atkins said. "I was able to stay on it and put a good swing on it. It feels good. I always knew I could hit. I knew it was a matter of time before I got my stroke back and helped the team win ballgames."

Smoltz endured one of his worst performances of the season, surrendering a season-high seven runs - five earned - and nine hits with four walks and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 frames. The 40-year-old Smoltz, who threw 51 pitches in his first two innings, fell to 11-5 lifetime against the Rockies.

"I did not have any rhythm," Smoltz said. "I was battling myself. I just couldn't get anything going at all. I don't know how many walks I had, but I don't usually walk that many people. I battled. That's all I can do."

Colorado took advantage of a rare defensive miscue by two-time Gold Glove Award-winning first baseman Mark Teixeira to take a 2-0 lead in the first.

Willy Taveras led off the game with a bad-hop double that fooled Teixeira. Kaz Matsui followed with a single and Smoltz issued a one-out intentional walk to Todd Helton, loading the bases.

Brad Hawpe followed by grounding a ball to the usually sure-handed Teixeira, who misplayed the ball, allowing Taveras and Matsui to score.

"I've never seen anything like that," Teixeira said. "I would have liked to have made the play to help Smoltz. Sometimes weird things happen. I provide myself on my defense. I'm more upset not making plays than striking out with runners on base."

Colorado added to the lead in the second inning on a two-out, two-run double by Holliday.

Teixeira homered in the ninth for Atlanta. It was his third blast in as many games, making him the first player since Gary Sheffield at the start of the 2002 campaign to homer in his first three games in a Braves uniform.

"Sheff's one of the best hitters in baseball," Teixeira said. "Anytime you throw his name out there, he deserves respect."

Chipper Jones scored on a double play in the fourth for Atlanta, which fell to 10-11 since the All-Star break.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    COLORADO 2 2 0 0 0 0 3 0 2 9 13 0
    ATLANTA 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 8 2 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: COL - JEFF FRANCIS, JEREMY AFFELDT (7TH), RAMON RAMIREZ (8TH), MATT
    HERGES (9TH) AND YORVIT TORREALBA
    ATL - JOHN SMOLTZ, TYLER YATES (7TH), JOEY DEVINE
    (8TH), LANC

    Aug 3 10:48 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MARK TEIXEIRA (3) TO CENTER WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF MATT HERGES.
    CURRENT SCORE: COLORADO 9, ATLANTA 2
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: A JONES (.217, 0-FOR-3)

    Rockies vs. BravesAug 3 10:39 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY TROY TULOWITZKI SCORED MATT HOLLIDAY AND GARRETT
    ATKINS.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, T TULOWITZKI ON FIRST, B HAWPE ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: COLORADO 9
    ATLANTA 1 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR COLORADO: Y TORREALBA (.278, 1-FOR-4)

    Rockies vs. BravesAug 3 10:27 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY GARRETT ATKINS (16) TO CENTER WITH 2
    OUT IN THE 7TH OFF JOHN SMOLTZ SCORED KAZ MATSUI AND TODD HELTON.
    CURRENT SCORE: COLORADO 7, ATLANTA 1
    DUE UP FOR COLORADO: B HAWPE (.289, 0-FOR-1, 2 BB)

    Rockies vs. BravesAug 3 9:35 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    ANDRUW JONES HIT INTO DOUBLE PLAY SCORING CHIPPER JONES.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: COLORADO 4
    ATLANTA 1 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J FRANCOEUR (.305, 0-FOR-1)

    Rockies vs. BravesAug 3 8:52 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY MATT HOLLIDAY SCORED YORVIT TORREALBA AND KAZ
    MATSUI.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, M HOLLIDAY ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: COLORADO 4
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR COLORADO: T HELTON (.296, 0-FOR-0, BB)

    Rockies vs. BravesAug 3 8:08 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    COLORADO 2 2 2 0
    ATLANTA 0 0 1 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: COL - JEFF FRANCIS
    ATL - JOHN SMOLTZ

    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: Y ESCOBAR (.329, 1 HR, 14 RBI)
    K JOHNSON (.296, 12 HR, 56 RBI)
    C JONES (.335, 17 HR, 56 RBI)

    Rockies vs. BravesAug 3 7:52 PM
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